HOME   |   ABOUT   |   KEYNOTE SPEAKER   |   CONSULTATIONS   |   TRAINING   |   BLOG   |   BOOKS   |   STORE          

Will a Female Comic Ever Host Late Night?

The LA Times called CBS’s choice of Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman, “Not a Conservative Choice.”

Really?  Come on.  I love Colbert, but casting another white male comic in the coveted Late Night hosting spot is as radical as choosing vanilla at 31 Flavors.

I was one of the few female comics touring clubs in the 80’s.  In 1986, I was doing my first comedy special for Showtime.  This was a big deal because it was produced by Paramount.  It was four comics, and I was the only woman on the show.  I was backstage listening to Howie Mandel introduce me:  “And our next guest is uh, ah, is a woman, she’s a woman!  And I know that cause I’ve seen her (two things that start with T) …. They’re real!  Here is Judy Carter…”

Yes, I was being introduced as if my gender was a gross abnormality.  Stomach churning, I summoned my courage and decided not to respond, certain that the producers would cut out the offending introduction.  But, they didn’t, as you can see here: http://youtu.be/o2lPBKyiWrs  (Please don’t judge the big hair).

So much has changed since the 1980’s.  We have an African-American president, female CEOs, and gay people can get married.  And, on late night TV, we have… wait for it… wait for it… all white guys with ties!

Really?  Have the career opportunities for funny females not improved in 30 years?  My friends are surprised that I’m surprised.  They refer to a comment by Eddie Brill, former talent booker for Letterman, who explained to the NY Times why he booked more male comics than female comics.  He said, “There are a lot less female comics who are authentic.  I see a lot of female comics who, to please an audience, will ACT LIKE MEN.

This statement is confusing, as it seems that Mr. Brill LIKES male comics.  Wouldn’t “acting like a man” be an advantage for a female comic?  Unless, of course, funny females are being judged, not solely on their comedy talent, but on their f-ability.

Every time a comedy with women hits the big screen, such as, “Bridesmaids,” or “The Heat,” I get a call from the media asking me the same question: “Are women funny?

I’ll tell you what ISN’T funny – that tired old question.

Yes!  Stephen Colbert is EXTREMELY talented.  So are Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler, Aisha Tyler, and many, many others.  Guess what?  You don’t need to go to the bathroom standing up to be funny.

But… on the positive side, (hey, I’m a motivational speaker now, I have to look on the positive side), when a door is slammed in our faces, a window opens.  That window of opportunity is the millions of people who LOVE female comedy.  And that’s why I, along with other funny women such as Jeanne Robertson, Amanda Gore, Loretta LaRoche, and others, get paid well to perform for audiences of over 2500 people.  Maybe it’s because audiences CAN’T see us on TV that they download our videos on YouTube, and come to see us live.

The good news is: capitalism trumps discrimination.

Steal This Blog...Please

I was watching a speaker open with something really funny.  I know because this speaker was opening with MY JOKE!  The Internet has become a place where people post jokes and stories that their grandma emailed them and, somewhere along the line, the name of the person who wrote those jokes gets removed.

Nobody seems to care as stealing is becoming acceptable.

You tell me – is this really weird?

I got a call from a speaker who watched my acronym routine on YouTube and requested a transcription of it.  Why? Because she wanted to use it!  How lazy are you that you need additional help from the very person you are stealing from -- to write out the routine you want to steal?

As I ripped her a new one, she was shocked and said, “It's not like it's so original.”

Now, she's dissin' the very material she thought a few minutes ago was good enough to steal!

So – here is why stealing is SO wrong:

1. It doesn't look good for you to do material that people have heard elsewhere. If your grandma emailed you a joke, chances are it's gone around.

2. An audience will sense that material is NOT authentic to you and thus destroys credibility.

3. You are undermining your own creative process. Stealing says, "I can't create."

You CAN write your own material and I can PROVE it!  Comedy material is not just relating the so-called funny things that happened to you or memorizing Internet jokes. Comedy is where you take something that is UNFUNNY and you do SOMETHING with it.  You act it out. You compare it to something. You discover the irony. You DO SOMETHING.

For instance: A pen is NOT funny.  But let's do something with it.  Answer this question:


Don't be scared – try it.  WRITE YOUR JOKE in the comment portion.

Congratulations!  You’ve now engaged in the creative process.  You are now GIVING rather than STEALING.  Doesn't it feel good?  Continue on!

Thoughts on the Disappearing Malaysian Plane...

 The plane seems to have just disappeared with 236 souls on board,” said Brian Williams on NBC News, speaking about the missing Malaysian plane.

That word made me look up from cooking dinner, and remark, “Did he say 'souls?' Why not people?

It seemed that even normally cautious network anchors were emphasizing the SUPERNATURAL elements of a plane full of people simply DISAPPEARING.

The entire world was watching, because it's so unsettling to think of something DISAPPEARING. As a young girl, I had a birthday party business as a magician. For one trick, I borrowed items from the audience: a dollar, a key, and at Lynn Fishers's party, her mother’s diamond wedding ring.

At the end of the trick, everything came back -- EXCEPT for her diamond ring. Everyone thought it was a part of the show, but it wasn't. I had no idea how it disappeared and started profusely sweating. “It will be back soon,” I lied.

It's hard for me to contain the notion of a disappearance. Every morning I wake up to see if there is an ending to this mystery. I remember sitting through endless seasons of Lost, so anxious to see the answers to the mysteries, only to be disappointed as it became clear that the one thing truly missing WAS an ending.

Netflix understands the power of needing to solve a mystery. I wasn't the only one who binge-watched Breaking Bad needing to know what happens. And then, the show disappeared...

When my mom died, it surprised us all because she was young and healthy, and, all of a sudden, she was gone. She got sick with the flu and died within the week. When I walked into her hospital room, her body was there, but she wasn't. She had disappeared. I got down on my hands and knees, looking under the bed to see if I could find her.

At the end of my magic show, a young boy in the audience handed me the diamond ring that had accidentally gotten attached to his key. It came back. And the mystery that stumped the magician was solved.

They say that when you die, you get to see all the people you miss. I always wonder, “what if they don't want to see you?

And -- I also wonder, are these just ideas we make up because it is just unbearable to contain the fact that people disappear?

In the last news report I heard, it sounded like they may have found indications that the plane is in the Indian Ocean with no survivors. But what happened to it – and more importantly, to the passengers on it – remains a mystery.

I hope that somehow, some day, someone solves that mystery.

Inappropriate Humor in SLC?

A few weeks ago, I did a humor workshop for the National Speakers Association in Salt Lake City. And within view of the Mormon Temple, standing in front of portraits of the Mormon prophets, I did a BJ JOKE. Wait... don't judge – I had a point.

Teaching comedy to corporate speakers is hard. These people speak to corporations where they are supposed to be appropriate, non-offensive, and non-sexual. But humor at its core is inappropriate, irreverent, and often SEXUAL.

The mistake speakers make when adding humor to their speeches and presentations is that they TONE DOWN their humor DURING the creative process, because they know they need to create “safe for work” jokes. But -- this approach often doesn’t create the results desired – because it’s exactly opposite of how comedy professionals work.

(Have you ever been in a room with TV comedy writers? I have just recently -- and it is a nasty business.)

A few weeks ago, one of my former students who is now, as my Jewish Grandma would say, a big shot, Big Marher (Yiddish word - big MAH-kher) TV producer. He asked me to come to the writer's room where we all sat and punched up his Disney pilot for young teens. Mind you, it's – DISNEY – YOUNG TEENS, so you would think the table would be full of “what the hecks” rather than BJ jokes.

Well, the BJ jokes didn't make it into the script, but they were bantered around the table, along with jokes so blue they would cause this email to be labeled as spam.

Is this necessary? Yes! Pros can't be their best when they're censoring themselves -- and neither can YOU.

Comedy comes from PASSION, and most often, ANGER. When I'm waiting off stage to do an hour set, I'm charged up with the passion to communicate my anger, but in a funny way. And that way, people can laugh and hear it. And the way to get to what is funny in your life is is to RANT.

The RANTING EXERCISE as described in “The Comedy Bible,” is the best way to create material. Ranting – with emotion – will help you blast through mental blocks and barriers. If you rant about what's hard, scary, stupid, or weird about your life and the people in it – you’re almost certain to land on something funny. And only after you get your ideas out in their raw, uncensored form, do you translate them into the language – and movie rating (most likely “G” for corporate gigs) that’s appropriate for your audience.

Performing for Free? There's Hope...

I just got a speaking engagement in Oman!

Have you heard of that country? I hadn't. I had to go to Mapquest to see if it's near TARZANA, or some familiar place -- but this is very different.

Oman is way EAST of La Brea. Matter of fact, Oman is just east of Saudi Arabia. At first, I was nervous because, well, I have BREASTS. And, apparently in countries such as Saudi Arabia, those cost several basic human rights, including the right to drive a car. I don't understand why; they've never interfered with me making a left turn. (Well, except when my driver's seat got stuck in my Mini, but that's another story.)

I did a bit of research on Oman's culture, meaning I called my Muslim friend Dalia Mogahed who you might recall from our hilarious piece together on NPR's All Things Considered; she's become my MUSLIM GOOGLE.

(Note to self: get more Muslim friends so I don't bug Dalia every time I have a Middle East question.)

According to Dalia, Oman is the "pearl of the Middle East, and a progressive country." And, apparently it's a country with people who want to be funnier and improve their speaking skills; that's why I'm flying there. This May, I'm going on a great adventure!

So, how did they find me? From seeing me speak at a gig I did for FREE in Cincinnati at Toastmasters International.

Many pro speakers I know are SNIVELNG about clients wanting them to speak for free or for a much-reduced fee. As some clients say, "You'll get exposure." I usually say, "I catch cold from exposure."

BUT...Here's the thing: just like 40 is the new 30 -- "FREE" can be the new "FEE."

I do only FOUR pro bono speaking engagements a year, and I CAREFULLY PICK them according to a set of rules from Mimi Donaldson, a fabulous speaker in her own right, as well as a speaking coach. She's determined 7 ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL MARKETING ESSENTIALS that must be met before you accept a non-paid speaking engagement.

That due diligence often pays off for me -- in 2013, if you take into consideration product sales, additional coaching clients, and spin-off engagements, these so called free gigs have netted me over $41,000 - not to mention an upcoming vacation in Oman. Nothing to snivel about!

If you use these 7 points to pick the right groups - AND your speech not only has as great message, entertaining stories, and a sales pitch that's worked into a story - pro bono can turn into pro opportunity.

On the other hand - I do gigs for free, not always to get money, but for LOVE. Matter of fact, I'm speaking on just this topic at a FREE GET TOGETHER FOR COMICS & SPEAKERS in HONOLULU on Thursday, May 8th. Go to my Facebook Page, click "Like" and the event is listed there.

To Freebie or Not to Freebie?
That is the Question...
All speakers do freebies -- even the ones earning over $10,000 a gig. You just need to choose your freebies wisely. Professional speaker, Mimi Donaldson only agrees to free gigs if they meet her seven qualifications:
1. The topic is chosen by me and must be related to products I sell.

2. I must be able to sell my products at the event and distribute order forms before I speak to all attendees.

3. I require a 6 to 8-foot table in a prominent place where participants will be, not off in another room somewhere.

4. I require at least 40 minutes of speaking time. I tell them it's not a commercial; it's content.

5. Location corresponds to number of attendees. If the venue is within an hour drive of my house, the audience must be at least 25 people. Over an hour drive -- at least 50 people.

6. I always require an attendees list with names and emails. You grow your database, and this speech becomes your first touch with each member of the audience. Sometimes, it takes more than one touch to sell a paid speech. You can email them after the speech, and send your valuable newsletter or a report.

7. I never accept a freebie for a corporation with the hope or promise they will pay next time. They never will. Why should they? You gave it away the first time.
FREE MARKETING TIPS to turn FREE to FEE: marketyourspeech.com
For detailed information on how to find your message, develop marketing materials and turn free into fee, get a copy of "The Message of You," available in Kindle and Audio.